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  • 25 Nov 2020 6:45 AM | Anonymous

    This is the first part of a series on Executive Coaching and Leadership Development for professionals.

    Executive coaching has exploded in popularity in the last decade and today benefits from an army of passionate advocates that not only including the coaches but also the participants that have personally benefited from coaching and their organizational sponsors who witnessed its transformational power firsthand.

    Between 25 and 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies use executive coaches, according to the Hay Group (acquired by Korn-Ferry), a major human-resources consultancy. Lee, Hecht, Harrison, the world’s leading career management firm, derives a full 20 percent of its revenues from executive coaching. Manchester, Inc., a similar national firm, finds that about six out of ten organizations currently offer coaching or other developmental counseling to their managers and executives. Another 20 percent of companies plan to offer coaching within the next year. Today, Cisco, Google, Uber, Facebook, among others have created departments of internal coaching and hired some of the brightest executive coaching minds.

    There are many definitions of executive coaching, but two of the most straightforward definitions that we prefer to use are, “a relationship in which a client engages with a coach in order to facilitate his or her becoming a more effective leader” (Ely et. Al) and “the facilitation of learning and development with the purpose of enhancing effective action, goals achievement, and personal satisfaction.”

    While these definitions provide a broad description of its intended purpose, the following criteria are used to more strictly define executive coaching:

    1. One-on-one interaction between an executive coach and the client – as opposed to team coaching, team building, group training, or group consulting. Coaches and clients usually interact through live sessions, weekly or bi-weekly for 60 to 90 minutes.
    2. Methodology based – drawing on specific tools, methods, and techniques that promote the client’s agenda to uncover their own blind spots, identify their challenges, and develop their own goals.
    3. Structured conversations led by a trained professional – as opposed to more traditional mentorship that takes place between managers, HR professionals, and peers These conversations focus on identifying and strengthening the relationship between the client’s own development and requirements of the business. As the complexity of the business increases, and the expectations on leaders increase, they found themselves needing to develop new skills and behaviors while eliminating self-inhibitors.
    4. Task-oriented – Executive coaching involves important stakeholders beyond the client and the coach; the goals and future outcomes for organization are central to the process. By using a sequence of explorations and small goal-achievements, the coach helps the client take action constantly in small increments to create long-lasting behavioral changes and results for both the client and the organization.
    5. Long-term Impact – intended to enhance the person’s ability to learn and develop new skills independently. The model focuses on developing the client’s capacity, knowledge, motivation, insights, and emotional intelligence maturity in order to effect long-term benefits.
    There are also many areas of expertise in which executive coaches can support clients:
    1. Business Acumen – focus on a deep understanding of best business practices and strategies, management principles and behaviors, financial models, business models and plans, and startup life cycles. While business consultants are hired to provide business relevant answers, executive coaches with business acumen guide the clients to define their own challenges, and develop their own solutions that align with their career and organizational goals.
    2. Organizational Knowledge – focus on design, structure, power and authority, alignment, culture, leadership models, company goals achievement and leadership development. Complexities of organizational models are very invisible to the untrained eye, or for coaches with no prior relevant personal experience.
    3. Coaching knowledge – focus on coaching methodologies, competencies, practices, assessment, personal goals achievement, as well as being students of lifelong learning and behavioral improvement. While there are many leaders providing coaching to their peers and teams, the work of professional executive coaches within organizations involves unleashing the human spirit and expanding people’s capacity to stretch and grow beyond self-limiting boundaries.
    “Executive coaches are not for the meek. They’re for people who value unambiguous feedback. If coaches have one thing in common, it’s that they are ruthlessly results-oriented. ”, according to an article according to Fast Company Magazine. This quote defines the major boundary between executive coaching and the unstructured other areas such as advising, consulting, or peer mentoring.

    In the next part of this series, we will explore the challenges and learnings on how to become a rock-star leader.

    Main image via Pexels.

    As an Executive Coach, Elie Habib guides CEOs, entrepreneurs, and senior executives toward performance excellence and acceleration of their career aspirations.

    He serves as a thought partner in guiding leaders to address their most complex leadership challenges.

    Elie is CEO of MotivaimCoach, Lebnet co-founder, Investment Committee member of MEVP’s Impact Fund (Lebanon), and prior corporate executive and CEO/founder.

  • 25 Nov 2020 6:41 AM | Anonymous

    This article is part of an expert series written by industry experts. In this part, Nadim Maluf, the CEO of Qnovo Inc, discussed the impact of the electrical grid and lithium-ion batteries breakthrough.

    The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded on 9 October 2019 the Nobel Prize in Chemistry to three scientists for “the development of the lithium-ion battery.” It was a long overdue recognition for John Goodenough, Stanley Wittingham and Akira Yoshino, and for the thousands of engineers and scientists who have made rechargeable batteries a pillar of a mobile society.

    Any person around the globe can associate lithium-ion batteries as the main power source in their smartphones or laptop computers, and increasingly, in new generations of electric vehicles. If you drive one, like a Tesla, you are quite fluent about its capabilities and limitations. Yet, few recognize how central lithium-ion batteries have become to our global economies — and the extent to which the “green revolution” relies on energy storage and battery systems. The purpose of this article is to shed some light on the underlying technologies and applications, both present and future.

    In many respects, a lithium-ion battery is a simple device. It has two electrical terminals: positive and negative. Yet, in many other respects, it is complex or evokes a sense of complexity because it involves “chemistry,” a topic of inimical memories to many college graduates.

    The basic structure of a Lithium-Ion battery

    In its most basic form, a lithium-ion battery consists of three sandwiched layers rolled together inside a package: an anode, a cathode, and a porous separator in between. During charging, lithium ions travel from the cathode to the anode through the pores of the separator. The opposite occurs during discharging.

    The battery inside your smartphone looks very much like the one described above. The battery inside an electric vehicle consists of hundreds — or in some cases thousands — of individual batteries (called cells) electrically connected together to provide more electrical charge and energy.

    Stored energy determines the life of the battery, i.e., the duration of time the energy may be available to a user. The basic unit of energy is the watt-hour, or W.h. The energy capacity of a small smartphone battery is about 15 W.h., sufficient to power a device for a day. That of an electric vehicle is nearly 100,000 W.h, often written as 100 kWh. This amount is sufficient for a driving range of approximately 500 km – or 5 hours at highway speeds. Batteries intended for the electric grid store a far larger amount of energy, typically several million W.h, or MW.h.

    The number of times the battery can be charged and discharged is called “cycle life.” In principle, charge-discharge cycling should occur indefinitely but degradation of structural materials within the battery limit its lifespan to less than 1,000 cycles. That works well for most applications.

    Charge time is another measure of importance, especially for consumer devices and electric vehicles.

    As the ancient saying goes, there is no such thing as a free lunch. Stored energy, cycle life and charge time are all inter-related. For example, repeated fast charging may accelerate battery damage hence shortening its lifespan (or cycle life). Such complex interactions force manufacturers to optimize the design of the battery to its intended application.

    The success of lithium-ion batteries in modern times is largely due to their favorable economics. The cost of batteries plummeted in this decade from US $1,000 US per kWh to nearly $100 per kWh. Forecasters predict that electric vehicles will reach cost parity with traditional combustion-engine cars by 2024. Combined with government regulations on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, it is inexorably transforming the automotive and transportation industries.

    Beyond consumer devices and electric vehicles, electric utilities are exploring the use of large-scale lithium-ion batteries for their grids. Many are familiar with pairing batteries to residential solar panel installations for the purpose of going off-grid. The reality is that such an application is limited in appeal to affluent suburban or rural areas; dense urban geographies will remain dependent for the foreseeable future on electric utility companies.

    Several utilities around the globe are piloting the use of lithium-ion batteries to offset a timing imbalance, dubbed the “duck curve,” between electric power demand and renewable energy production. Solar power peaks in the afternoon hours causing traditional fossil fuel power plants, namely gas-powered turbines, to throttle down their production. Yet these turbines need to ramp up rapidly again in the evening to make up for rising power demand after the sun sets. This steep decline in traditional power generation in the afternoon followed by a rapid ramp in the evening causes significant stress on the grid and worse greenhouse gas emissions.

    Enter lithium-ion batteries. They soak up the excess solar energy generated during daylight and then deliver it after the sun goes down. The result is a flatter power generation profile for traditional fossil fuel power plants with improved operating efficiencies, lower GHG emissions and better economics.

    The California Energy Commission approved in 2018 a mandate to install solar panels on all new single-family homes constructed after 2020. Guaranteeing a steady rise in future use of solar energy, batteries become a critical component in integrating renewable sources of energy with the traditional grid.

    Duck Curve: Timing imbalance between peak demand and renewable energy production in California.
    (Source: California Independent System Operator CAL ISO)

    Traditional grids historically consisted of large power production plants in distant locations and extensive transmission grid lines to transport the power to large urban areas.

    Power plants adjusted their energy outputs to match the exact demand at that moment in time. Future grids will evolve to more distributed designs integrating renewable energy sources (e.g., solar, wind) in proximity to or within urban boundaries, with energy storage systems (to store energy when it is generated and releasing it when it is needed).

    California leads the nation in energy storage with 4,200 MW of installed capacity — enough to power nearly 1 million households. California Senate Bill SB100 mandates that the state receives all its energy from carbon-neutral sources by 2045. Both the state legislature and the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) have imposed specific energy storage targets for investor-owned utilities operating across the state.

    Looking out to the next decade, energy storage and batteries will become central to global energy and transportation policies. It is no surprise that forecasters estimate the market for lithium-ion batteries to be in excess of $300 Billion by 2030.

    Main Image via Pexels

LebNet, a non-profit organization, serves as a multi-faceted platform for Lebanese professionals residing in the US and Canada, entrepreneurs, investors, business partners in a broad technology eco-system, and acts as a bridge to their counterparts in Lebanon and the rest of the Middle East


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